One state, two cities, countless experiences: From the first hot drink in Germany's coffee capital to a late-night nightcap, Bremen offers urban adventure at its best. And just 53 kilometers away, the sister city of Bremerhaven provides vacation flair on the North Sea. In short, the perfect combination - first metropolis, then maritime.
As soon as you get off the train, Bremen's main station welcomes you with a showpiece of the neo-Renaissance: the listed hall, which is considered one of the most beautiful in Germany. From here, it's a 20-minute walk to the "Viertel," as the Ostertor and Steintor districts are simply called. In this trendy neighborhood, there are not only alternative stores, restaurants and a casual nightlife (more on that later), but also a large selection of cafés to start the sightseeing day fortified. Our tip: The "Coffee Corner" at Sielwall (main intersection, short "am Eck") serves bagles, pancakes, fresh juices, coffee and co. with a top view of the hustle and bustle. Join them after breakfast, stroll along the Gründerzeit houses and browse in the many specialty shops. Be sure to stop by "Holtorfs Heimathaven," Germany's oldest grocery store dating back to 1874. In the historic ambience, they sell all kinds of delicacies "that make you fat, drunk and happy."
Time for some education: From Sielwall, you stroll along Ostertorsteinweg in the direction of the city center past the "culture mile". In addition to the Theater Bremen, there are three institutions that represent the most diverse currents of art: The Wilhelm-Wagenfeld-Haus, named after the artist who was born in 1900 in Bremen born industrial designer and Bauhaus student, shows the history of everyday culture. The Kunsthalle Bremen, which is of national importance, presents works from 700 years of painterly creativity - from Dürer to Picasso to the U.S. light performer Turrell. And the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, dedicated to the sculptor who created the bronze statue of the Bremen Town Musicians in 1953, shines with contemporary sculptures and graphics. The selfie in front of the donkey, dog, cat and rooster is then taken at the town hall, our next destination.
But before that, a stopover in the oldest quarter of the city - the "Schnoor". The most charming quarter owes its name to the Bremen's the Low German word for cord. Ropes and ropes for shipbuilding have long since ceased to be manufactured there, but a stroll through the winding alleys along the warped half-timbered houses will catapult you straight back into the past.
Looking through the small windows of the listed buildings from the 15th to 18th centuries, there are all kinds of things to discover, such as jewelry manufactories, galleries and cafés. Speaking of which: with its doll-like patisseries and waffle parlors, this spot is made for "coffee-making. That's what the locals call the enjoyment of their favorite drink during a cozy get-together, hygge in Hanseatic style, so to speak.
Now a bag of Bremer Kluten - cube-like pieces of peppermint fondant - on hand and off to the market square. The city's "parlor" is characterized by gabled houses in the Renaissance style - and the ensemble of City Hall and Roland, the "Statue of Liberty" of the citizens of Bremen and a Unesco World Heritage Site. From the tower of the St. Petri Cathedral you have a 1A view of the sights, including the city's oldest Langenstraße. There you will also find the tourist information office, where you can book your accommodation. Tip: the mini package for 58 euros per person including hotel accommodation and ErlebnisCard for free travel on public transport. Just a few steps away from the market square, you'll reach Böttcherstraße, which is also a listed building because of its expressionist brick architecture. In the Haus des Glockenspiels there, 30 Meissen porcelain bells ring out several times a day.
Despite its population of around 560,000, the city of Bremen wonderfully tranquil. Most things are within walking distance. And so sightseeing can be seamlessly combined with extensive shopping. In the city center there are many well-known stores, but also smaller stores and covered shopping arcades for dry feet in bad weather. Then it is cozy to stop in one of the rustic restaurants, such as "Ratskeller" or "Schüttinger", where Nordic classics are served. Whether Knipp, Stinte, Labskaus or "Kohl und Pinkel" - the former dishes are food for the soul, even if quite hearty.
A digestive walk to the nearby banks of the Weser helps. Because of the view of the river, the so-called Schlachte is a popular meeting place, beer gardens, pubs and cocktail bars line up there. Not tired yet? Then up'n Swutsch back to the quarter. Especially at the so-called Bermuda Triangle you will find the best nightcap pubs. But be careful, if you treat yourself to a "Krabeldiwandenuff" (fiery herbal schnapps), you should first have a "Rollo" - the filled wheat pancake is the perfect basis for a long party evening.
Hungover or not, it takes just 35 minutes by train to reach the young port city at the entrance to the North Sea. A lot has happened there in recent years. The "Strandhalle", directly on the dike, offers a first impression. For a hearty breakfast buffet with all the trimmings, a fantastic view of the passing ships on the Weser awaits you. Flea market fans can take a detour from here to the Rotesand flea market in Rudloffstraße, where curiosities and treasures can be discovered on weekends from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
All others can be chauffeured by water cab "Lottjen" through the lock over the gently rocking waves - destination: Schaufenster Fischereihafen, a maritime mile with pretty stores, nice bistros as well as a fishing village from the time around 1900. Besides small wooden huts, fountains and a smokehouse, there is also a colonial goods store with souvenir potential here.
Even today, the fishing port is one of the most important locations for fish in Europe. And so the event location "Fischbahnhof" is all about the delicacies from the sea. The tip: book a show in the "sea fish cooking studio" and let the professionals inspire you in a highly entertaining way with tricks for the preparation of cod, gurnard & Co. Then it's time to head for the buffet and feast on the fish platters! After this extra portion of omega-3, you are guaranteed to be fit for the last part of the weekend trip.
Ahoy on deck of MS "Dorsch"! This is the name of the launch of Captain Reind Geerdes, a Bremerhaven original, who will take you through the fishing port. Formerly on a great voyage himself, "the harbor owl" now knows all sorts of things to tell, including all sorts of doenkes. You'll pass huge refrigerated warehouses, docks, shipyards - and the Brinkamahof lighthouse, Bremerhaven's smallest pub. After 80 minutes, it's time to drop anchor and indulge in the summer feeling at the Weser beach - with wicker beach chairs and a longing view of the ships heading out into the wide world.
There is probably no more atmospheric place for a sundowner than on the extensive Weser beach, whose terrace restaurants alone with names like "Sandbank" and "Seelust" create a vacation mood. After dinner, it's worth taking a walk on the dike along the Old and New Harbors. There, the POI's line up like buoys.
Among the highlights is the German Maritime Museum, which presents not only history but also old-timers, such as a whaling steamer and a submarine. Or the Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° EastThe futuristic facade of the building houses, among other things, a weather studio. With the help of interactive stations, it illustrates the climatic relationships on earth. The Emigrants' House is also noteworthy: here, the history of the approximately seven million people who emigrated to Germany between 1830 and 1974 can be experienced. Bremerhaven have left.
Passing the marina, you will soon reach the street affectionately known as "Alte Bürger". There are pubs with live music here as well as stylish bars. Tip: check out the calendar of events at the "Pferdestall". Whether it's a full moon lounge, a reading, a poetry slam or a concert, there's always something going on in this special location - making it the perfect end to your weekend in Bremen and Bremerhaven.
Cover photo: The market square with St. Peter's Cathedral is considered the "parlor" of the Hanseatic city © Jonas Ginter/BTZ Bremer Touristik-Zentrale
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